NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 3, 2021

The latest on Mitch Marner, Seth Jones, Sam Reinhart and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LEAFS GM SAID HE WON’T MOVE MARNER BUT SPECULATION PERSISTS

NHL.COM: Mike Zeisberger reports Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Mitch Marner won’t be part of any potential offseason roster changes. He defended Marner and Auston Matthews, adding that moving either of them would be foolish.

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos acknowledged Dubas’ comments but believes rival general managers will be calling about Marner. He thinks the Leafs should listen to offers, especially if they’re coming from Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Traikos wondered if they could swap out Marner for Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, or Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson, or Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas seems adamant about not trading Marner or Matthews. It would have to be a significant deal to pry Marner away from the Leafs. Maybe he’s willing to listen if Jones or Gibson or Eichel were pitched to him for Marner, but we don’t know if those offers will be made.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIEDMAN’S RECENT “31 THOUGHTS”

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes there will be plenty of interest in Jackets defenseman Seth Jones despite his unrestricted free agent eligibility next summer. He feels it could be a complex transaction. He thinks it could be “a trade and free agency at the same time” unless someone’s willing to offer up a major package for Jones as a playoff rental for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said before, interested clubs could want assurances Jones will sign a contract extension before signing off on a trade. He’ll be of more value in the trade market that way. Perhaps a sign-and-trade scenario takes place. Maybe the Jackets grant permission for rival general managers to speak with Jones’ agent about a new deal.

Speaking of the Jackets, Friedman believes they spoke to the Buffalo Sabres about Sam Reinhart. The Sabres are looking for goaltenders and could have interest in Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins. He thinks these two clubs would make sensible trade partners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart for Korpisalo or Merlikins could make sense for both clubs. As Friedman noted, however, there’s no guarantee that a deal takes place.

Friedman expects the Anaheim Ducks will try to make a big move this summer. They attempted to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Blue Jackets before he was traded in January to the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pursuit of Dubois suggests Ducks GM Bob Murray will be in the market for a center. Aging captain Ryan Getzlaf is a UFA this summer. If he returns it won’t be in a top-six role.

Sources indicate league revenue for this season could be between $1.8 billion and $2 billion. Factor in money owed to the league by the players and the salary cap could remain static for several seasons, perhaps to 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman suggests that could mean offer-sheet thresholds could be lower than ever. I still don’t hold my breath waiting for one given how rarely that tactic is employed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s action include Alex Ovechkin reaching two milestones,  the Sabres fire coach Ralph Krueger, plus the latest on Evgeni Malkin, Taylor Hall, John Gibson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored his 718th career goal and reached his 1,300th career points as his Washington Capitals earned a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Nicklas Backstrom also had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who moved ahead of the Isles into first place (42 points) in the MassMutual East Division. Ovechkin moved past Phil Esposito into sixth place on the all-time goals list and 34th on the all-time points list with 1,301.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is now 13 goals behind Marcel Dionne, who sits fifth overall.

The Boston Bruins rode a 34-save debut by rookie goaltender Dan Vlader to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Trent Frederic tallied the game-winner in the third period for the Bruins (34 points), who opened a three-point over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the East Division.

It was a rough game for both clubs, as Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (lower-body) and Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi (upper-body) left the game with injuries. Penguins forward Brandon Tanev was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding Tinordi. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed defenseman John Marino (undisclosed) on injured reserve and announced forward Teddy Blueger was sidelined longer-term with an upper-body injury.

A third-period goal by Miles Wood lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their 12th straight loss. It was the Devils’ first home victory since Jan. 24. Sabres winger Taylor Hall left the game in the first period after being knocked to the ice by P.K. Subban and struck in the face by a shot from teammate Colin Miller but returned in the second to complete the game. Earlier in the day, the Devils announced captain Nico Hischier would be sidelined approximately three weeks following surgery to repair a sinus fracture.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall was fortunate to escape serious injury. This season is the nadir of what’s been a decade of suck for the Sabres. Ownership and management seem uncertain over what to do, head coach Ralph Krueger has no solutions while the players seem to be growing more dispirited with each loss.

**UPDATE**

The Buffalo Sabres this morning fired Ralph Krueger and assistant coach Steve Smith. Don Granato replaces Krueger on an interim basis while development coaches Matt Ellis and Dan Girardi become assistant coaches. 

The Colorado Avalanche scored six unanswered goals to overcome a 4-2 deficit and double up the Anaheim Ducks 8-4. Nazem Kadri scored twice and set up two others and Devon Toews collected three assists while Philipp Grubauer got the win after replacing Hunter Miska following the first period. With 36 points, the Avs opened a three-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Ducks announced goaltender John Gibson is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves to shut out the Arizona Coyotes 3-0 and extending his winning streak to nine games. Ryan Hartman, Mats Zuccarello and Jared Spurgeon were the goal scorers as the Wild (37 points) sit two behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the West Division.

The Tampa Bay Lightning blew a 3-1 lead but edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Brayden Point, who also had a goal and an assist in regulation. Third-period goals by Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov forced overtime and the shootout. The win moved the Lightning (42 points) past the Florida Panthers into first place in the Discover Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the battle going on between the Lightning, Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes for the top spot in the Central. The rivalry between the two Florida-based franchises is getting more entertaining with the Panthers’ improvement this season.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, their eight-game win streak came to an end as they fell 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. Adam Erne tallied twice while teammate Filip Hronek had a goal and two assists for the Wings. Jonathan Bernier kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Hurricanes (41 points) are one behind the Lightning and Panthers in the Central. Earlier in the day, the Wings announced forward Bobby Ryan is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford admitted he attempted to reacquire goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights during the offseason. He said one of the reasons behind the decision to buy out defenseman Jack Johnson was to clear cap space for Fleury.

Rutherford also said he inquired into Fleury’s availability while the Golden Knights were still in the playoffs. The trade discussions were never deeply involved because of the salary-cap difficulties in acquiring Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt we’ll see Rutherford’s successor Ron Hextall pursuing Fleury. The cap issues remain but Hextall wants to take the club in a different direction by focusing on younger players.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they’ve activated goalie Robin Lehner off injured reserve. He’d been sidelined since Feb. 7 with a lower-body injury.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 15, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 15, 2021

Could the Penguins pursue Ducks goalie John Gibson? Are the Flames any closer to trading Sam Bennett? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports an NHL source hinted John Gibson and his agent are concerned about the direction of the Anaheim Ducks. Gibson’s goaltending is the reason the Ducks are in playoff contention despite their weak offense.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (NHL Images).

Another source wondered if the Pittsburgh Penguins might pursue Gibson. Brian Burke, the Penguins’ new president of hockey operations, still has connections with the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gibson has every reason to be concerned about the direction of the Ducks. He’s in the second season of an eight-year, $51.2 million contract. He could be reluctant to spend most of it backstopping a rebuilding club.

There’s no indication Gibson or his agent have approached Ducks general manager Bob Murray about a trade. We also don’t know if any teams are calling about Gibson’s availability but it wouldn’t surprise me if there have been some inquiries.

The Penguins have limited salary-cap space for this season and next. If they were to pursue Gibson they must shed around $6 million in cap space to make room for his annual average value.

And no, I don’t believe Murray would absorb part of Gibson’s cap hit to make a trade happen. For that matter, I don’t think he has any intention of trading his starter. Still, assuming he would make that move, he won’t want any more dead cap space than what he’s currently got with Corey Perry’s buyout counting against the books to the end of 2022-23.

THE LATEST ON BENNETT

CALGARY SUN: Daniel Austin observed how talk of the Flames trading forward Sam Bennett has cooled since they put him on a line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. He also pointed out how recent injuries to Derek Ryan, Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm have depleted the Flames’ forward depth.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Duhatschek recently examined Bennett’s situation, suggesting placing him with Gaudreau and Monahan was either to heal whatever rift exists or showcase him for a trade.

This summer’s expansion draft could also a concern. Duhatschek suggested it might be worthwhile for the Flames to explore getting a valuable asset like a draft pick or a draft-exempt prospect for Bennett rather than risk losing him for nothing to the Seattle Kraken.

The Toronto Maple Leafs would be a good fit if it weren’t for their limited salary-cap space. Other options could be rebuilding clubs such as the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bennett hasn’t kicked up a fuss about being moved so it seems Flames GM Brad Treliving has decided to ignore his agent’s trade request. Then again, putting him alongside Gaudreau and Monahan could’ve been the motive all along by the Bennett camp. Perhaps Treliving shopped around but hasn’t yet found a suitable offer. Maybe he’s decided to wait until this summer because he needs Bennett for the playoffs.

Whatever the reason, Bennett no longer seems the trade certainty he was earlier this month. That could change with one phone call but that might not be coming anytime soon.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 12, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, the league introduces enhanced COVID-19 protocols, two more Flyers are added to the protocol list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Sidney Crosby’s shootout winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the New York Islanders 4-3. Penguins Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist while teammate Zach Aston-Reese scored in his first game since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.

The Florida Panthers picked up a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to snap the latter’s six-game winning streak. Alex Wennberg and Aaron Ekblad each tallied a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who were playing without winger Anthony Duclair as he was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The Lightning played without captain Steven Stamkos, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have 18 points (8-1-2) and sit one point behind the Lightning in the Central Division.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic (NHL Images).

A four-goal third period rallied the Columbus Blue Jackets from a 4-2 deficit to nip the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5, ending the latter’s three-game win streak. Cam Atkinson scored and collected three assists while Jack Roslovic tallied twice. Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without Andrew Shaw as he suffered another concussion during Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars. They also learned defenseman Connor Murphy will miss 10-14 days with an injured right hip.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shaw has a history of head injuries. It may be time for him to consider retirement rather than risk further serious injury by continuing his playing career. Roslovic, meanwhile, has four goals and nine points in eight games since being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets and now centers the Jackets’ top line.

The Nashville Predators ended a three-game losing skid by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Dante Fabbro netted the game-winner in the final minute of the third period. Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm missed the game with an undisclosed injury and was placed on injured reserve.

Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves backstopping the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 5-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. The Senators also lost goalie Matt Murray as he left the game after two periods following a collision with teammate Nikita Zaitsev. More information about his condition could be released later today.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 38 saves for his 40th career shutout to blank the slumping Montreal Canadiens 3-0. Jujhar Khaira, Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie were the goal scorers. The start time for the game was pushed back an hour after Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi was held out of the game-day skate and placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The game was allowed to proceed following rapid testing of his teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have returned to earth after their red-hot start. They’ve dropped three of their last four games and managed just six goals during that period. Opponents have neutralized the Habs’ offense by clogging the neutral zone and outworking them in their own zone. In recent years the Canadiens have started strong only to suffer setbacks during the second quarter of the schedule that leaves them struggling over the remainder of the season. Time will tell if the latest slump is a minor speed bump or the harbinger of yet another collapse.

The Carolina Hurricanes dumped the Dallas Stars 5-3 to hand the latter their four straight loss. Nino Niederreiter broke a 3-3 tie with a breakaway goal early in the third period. Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera returned to the lineup after spending a week on the COVID-19 protocol list while goalie Anton Khudobin played his first game after being scratched from Sunday’s game for missing Saturday’s practice.

Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves to give the Calgary Flames a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Markstrom and teammates Chris Tanev and Josh Leivo were playing their first game in Vancouver since the former Canucks signed with the Flames last fall. Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano each collected two points for the Flames while the spiraling Canucks suffered their sixth straight defeat.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their first win in six games by thumping the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Drew Doughty collected three assists for the Kings while Tomas Hertl scored both goals for the Sharks. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced goaltender Devan Dubnyk was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks coach Bob Boughner called out goalie Martin Jones following this game, saying his performance was “not up to our standard.” Jones (5-3-0) has been erratic, playing well in his victories and getting pulled early in each of his defeats this season.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 21 saves to shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0. Max Comtois tallied the lone goal as Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (27 saves) suffered his first loss of the season. The Golden Knights played without netminder Robin Lehner, who’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL is adding game-day rapid testing for players, team personnel and on-ice officials as part of its expanded safety protocols in hope of stemming potential COVID-19 outbreaks.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The number of Flyers on the COVID-19 protocol list rose to five as Jakub Voracek and Morgan Frost were added on Thursday. The club’s next scheduled game is Feb. 18, after which they’re slated to travel to Nevada to face the Boston Bruins in an outdoor game at Lake Tahoe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL could be forced to find a replacement for the Flyers in that game or postpone that contest and shift it to an indoor venue at a later date.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild are cleared to resume team activities today though 12 players remain on the protocol list. They are scheduled to return to action against the Kings on Tuesday.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Steve Sullivan, adding they would not be seeking a replacement for him. Sullivan was interim GM after John Chayka left his role with the club last summer.

CBS SPORTS: A lower-body injury will sideline Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk against the New York Rangers tonight.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery today.

NHL.COM: Willie O’Ree’s number retirement ceremony has been rescheduled to Jan. 18, 2022, to allow for in-person attendance. A trailblazer for players of color, O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018. He’ll become the 12th player in Bruins history to have his number retired.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2021

Recaps from a very busy night in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Craig Smith. Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who lost winger Jake DeBrusk to a lower-body injury following an open-ice hit by Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Jason Zucker scored and collected an assist for the Penguins.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel’s first goal of the season held up as the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the slumping New York Rangers, sending the latter to their fourth straight loss. Earlier in the day, the Rangers learned center Filip Chytil will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury.

Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (NHL Images).

James van Riemsdyk scored two goals and Ivan Provorov had a goal and two assists to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Claude Giroux also collected two assists for the Flyers.

The Washington Capitals nipped the New York Islanders 3-2 when Justin Schultz scored with 27 seconds remaining in the third period. John Carlson had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who extended their points streak to seven games. Mathew Barzal scored and picked up an assist for the Islanders, who earned scorn from head coach Barry Trotz over his club’s lack of urgency. “It’s playoff mentality right now and I’m not sure we have our playoff mentality yet,” said Trotz. “And it’s pissing me off.” The Islanders were playing with Anthony Beauvillier as he was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.

Patric Hornqvist’s shootout goal gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe each collected two points for the Panthers.

The Nashville Predators ended a three-game skid by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on an overtime tally by Roman Josi. Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist for the Predators. The Blackhawks skated without winger Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Adam Boqvist as both are expected to miss two weeks due to COVID-19 protocols.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored and set up three others as the Winnipeg Jets rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-4. Adam Copp also had a four-point night (two goals, two assists) and Adam Lowry had a three-point performance for the Jets. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had two points while blueliner Darnell Nurse chalked up three assists.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their third win in four games by beating the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on a third-period goal by Carl Grundstrom. Kings goalie Cal Petersen kicked out 32 shots for the win.

An overtime goal by Jason Dickinson lifted the Dallas Stars over the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. Stars defenseman John Klingberg had a goal and an assist while Joe Pavelski collected his 800th career point. The Stars have won their first three games.

The St. Louis Blues defeated former captain Alex Pietrangelo and the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 5-4 on a shootout goal by Brayden Schenn. David Perron scored twice for the Blues while Max Pacioretty tallied a hat trick for the Golden Knights, who played without their coaching staff behind the bench after one of them tested positive for COVID-19. General manager Kelly McCrimmon took over as head coach and called up several coaches from their farm team as assistants. The Golden Knights are closing their facilities today as they determine their next steps under the league’s coronavirus protocols.

A third-period goal by Mitch Marner gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. Marner, Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly each had two points for the Leafs, who swept their two-game series against the Flames. Johnny Gaudreau tallied twice for the Flames. There were fireworks at the game’s end when Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin flipped the puck at Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, touching off a scrum that landed Muzzin a meaningless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The incident was likely tied to Tkachuk injuring Leafs backup goalie Jack Campbell in their previous game, leaving Campbell sidelined “for weeks”.

The Colorado Avalanche rolled to a 7-3 beat down of the San Jose Sharks. Brandon Sand scored twice, Cale Makar picked up three assists and Mikko Rantanen extended his goal-scoring streak to six games. The Sharks, meanwhile, are hoping to ready soon to their home arena after the state of California lifted its regional stay-at-home order that had been in place since Dec. 3.

John Gibson turned in a 31-save shutout and Danton Heinen scored the only goal as the Anaheim Ducks blanked the Arizona Coyotes 1-0.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2020

Remembering Henri Richard, the Jets move into a wild-card berth and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Henri Richard, who won a record-setting 11 Stanley Cups as a player during his 20-year career with the Montreal Canadiens, died yesterday at age 84 of Alzheimer’s disease. The younger brother of Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Henri carved out his Hall-of-Fame career as a skilled two-way center. A 10-time All-Star, Richard captained the Canadiens from 1971-72 to 1974-75, won the Masterton Trophy in 1974, and was voted one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players in 2017. He also played a franchise-record 1,258 games with the Canadiens and finished third all-time among Habs scorers with 1,046 points.

Henri Richard was one of the Montreal Canadiens’ greatest players (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m old enough to recall seeing Richard play with the Canadiens whenever they appeared on Hockey Night in Canada in the early-70s. With his grey hair, the Pocket Rocket looked so old to my very young eyes back then, but he impressed me with his skating and puck-moving skills. Richard was the quintessential two-way center and one of the Canadiens’ all-time greats. Had the Selke Trophy existed during his playing career, he would’ve won it multiple times. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, and former teammates.

GAME RECAPS

Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 29-save shutout as the Winnipeg Jets (76 points) blanked the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0 to move into the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist. The Golden Knights (82 points) remain two ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.

Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists in the Calgary Flames 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. With the win, the Flames (79 points) to within one point of the second-place Oilers in the Pacific. Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who slip two points behind the Jets.

Zack McEwen tallied twice while J.T. Miller and Antoine Roussel each had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks trounced the Colorado Avalanche 6-3, snapping a four-game losing skid. With 76 points, the Canucks hold the first wild-card berth with two games in hand over the Jets.

Make it three straight losses for the Toronto Maple Leafs in California as they fell 2-1 to the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson made 26 saves for the Ducks before leaving midway through the third with an undisclosed injury. Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci returned to the lineup after being sidelined for a month. With 79 points, the Leafs still hold a playoff spot, sitting third in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If it wasn’t for the inept Florida Panthers, the Leafs would be in real danger of falling out of a playoff spot. Maybe the knowledge that the stumbling Panthers probably can’t catch them explains the Leafs’ lifeless effort in California.

The New Jersey Devils upset the St. Louis Blues 4-2, snapping the latter’s eight-game winning streak. Devils goaltender Cory Schneider kicked out 31 shots. The Blues (90 points) hold a two-point lead over the Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference standings.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier turned aside 32 shots in a 2-1 upset of the Chicago Blackhawks. Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri scored for the Wings, while Patrick Kane replied for the Blackhawks (70 points), who failed to gain ground in the playoff race, sitting six points out of a wild-card spot in the West.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS: Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov won’t face supplemental discipline for elbowing Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo on Thursday night.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers re-signed forward Josh Archibald to a two-year extension worth $1.5 million annually.

THE SCORE: The NHL is urging its players to limit contact with fans due to the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good idea. Too bad the league doesn’t make a similar plea every year during flu season.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed a five-year affiliating agreement that starts next season with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds.